Eugene describes the carriage journey from Genoa to Rome to Henri Tempier.

I was so happy during my journey! The Lord had made me experience so much happiness at the altar to which I ascended every day, in spite of the beautiful discourses, the reasoning to the skies of the Jesuit Father who travelled with me, and to whom coffee at three o’clock in the morning was as indispensable as the fresh air he had to breathe.

Eugene is referring to the law of complete fasting from midnight in order to be able to celebrate Mass and receive Communion during the day.

Our spiritual exercises, our conversations in a coach where we were all four invested with the priesthood, the pleasure of meeting twice a day at the inns with four others, Carmelite discalced religious, who travelled along with us and yet again, besides such company, the habit of interior recollection which gave me the facility of transporting myself in spirit either to be with you or at the bishop’s house, or in our houses and on the missions.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 26 November 1825, EO VI n. 208

 The “habit of interior recollection” is something that we come across regularly in his diary: the ability to become aware of God wherever he was, no matter how much activity there was around him, and through this “oraison” to be in communion with his Oblate community in a deep way.


“I hope to have communion with the people, that is the most important thing.”   Pope John Paul II

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I love Eugene’s frankness, and how he speaks with humor and love of the Jesuit priest and his foibles. I was a little surprised at my reaction to “fasting” for I must admit, except for when I was at Madonna House I do not ‘fast’ before Mass and Communion. I was surprised to find out that it is a part of Canon Law (#919) and almost ashamed to admit that I do not really know how or why this practice began, nor the why of it today. Does it make me any less of a Catholic (or less of a person) if I do not fast the requisite hour before Communion? Does it mean that I am living in a state of sin? I receive the Eucharist out of hunger, out of need. Not because I am so worthy (except that in God has made me worthy through the very giving of his body and blood in the Eucharist), I go out of need, out of yearning and yes out of habit which I have most deliberately cultivated.

    I reflected more on what Eugene is calling “habit of interior recollection”, on ‘oraison’ as we know it. I love that he managed to take the opportunity to do this during his ride through the country side. I guess that we all try to do this off and on throughout our day when we can, walking or riding the bus to work or to shop, stopping our work or our chores even for a few minutes simply to enter into prayer with God, to connect with what/who is our life blood. Usually as I walk to church I find myself trying to let go of all the noise and business of the life, almost in preparation for what I am about to enter into. Yesterday I walked faster than is usual and I arrived early at church so I sat off to the side for a little bit, simply to be ‘with’ God for a few minutes. It was noisy as children played at the back of the church, waiting for their parents and as people returned after being away for vacation. I allowed myself to become gathered for a few brief moments and then moved to become a part of the gathering of many and be present to those around me, It was a joyful experience that ‘entering into the presence of’, that being in communion with’.

    This morning I keep thinking “pray always” (from St. Paul). With Eugene it was in the coach as he road towards Rome. With me it how will it be today, how shall I enter into the presence of God throughout my day?

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